Attending Lectures

March 1, 2014   

A couple of years ago, that was when I was starting medical school, I used to hate attending lectures. For one, it was very hard to get up and leave the bed early in the morning and when I did, I hardly knew anything and everything either seemed boring like Microbiology, where the teacher basically used to read from power point slides or in hard to grasp subjects like pathology. Oh! he doesn’t explain was the usual cry from everyone. As I now know, Microbiology doesn’t lend itself well to be explained. Most of the time, the teacher states what bacteria or virus cause a particular disease. It’s the same whether you read the slides, attend lectures or study from your medical books.

Most of the student didn’t study the lessons prior to the lectures and the ones who did, usually sat in the front seats and used to miserably fail answering simple questions, they were trying too hard to answer the hard ones. So I used to compensate by studying on my own at home or in class where I didn’t pay attention to what the professors were teaching. The best advice a lot of medical students share during their pre-clinical years is “Don’t attend lectures, study on your own.”

I think admittedly such an advice may work but it may also be dangerous and damaging. For one, you spend a lot of time studying things that are not deemed important to medical practice and second, you miss the experience of the professors who know what work or don’t work or worse never become the good doctor you want to be.

So now that I’m in my final year, I enjoy learning from my professors. I can’t remember the amount of times they have shown me how to do things better and more efficiently. Before, when I got a CT scan to read, I used to look all over the place systematically to come up with a diagnosis. Let me be honest, I mostly got it wrong because of distraction from anatomic detail or thinking about different diseases. Now, I have learnt to use the CT to confirm or rule out a diagnosis from the history and physical examination. Before, when we saw a patient with the professors, we usually tried too hard to come up an answer to the presentation the patient shows. Now, It’s an opportunity to learn from the professor doing his thing. Grand rounds used to be where the best doctors came to solve complex cases together, no one had time for medical students. Now, it’s a place I go to learn from the best brains and take some notes.

Of course, my basic science and clinical knowledge helps. The professors are friendlier because I’m more receptive and that I’m more relaxed about things because of the experience gained from years of hard work and patience serve me well. But I do wish I attended more lectures.

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